Despite the rising cost of energy, there are ways homeowners can keep their homes warm when the weather turns while also keeping insulation scammers at bay.
As more people look to insulate their homes this year, in order to make their homes more energy-efficient and cut their energy bills, there is also likely to be an increase in the number of con artists looking to take advantage of vulnerable people.
In recent years, there has been one scam in particular that rogue installers and deceitful salespeople have been trying to force on unsuspecting customers.
What does it involve?
Typically, people will be cold-called and doorstepped and then pressured into agreeing to work that is both unsuitable to their property and massively overpriced.
In December last year, for example, there was a scam operating in Herefordshire, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire and other neighbouring counties, whereby homeowners were told that the insulation they currently have in their property is either likely to cause damage (for example, mould and damp) or is soon to become illegal.
With this in mind, the rogue traders then tried to persuade these homeowners to plump for an alternative ‘spray-in’ insulation sold at hugely overboard prices. Elderly people were especially targeted, with rogue companies seeking out possible victims by using databases of people aged 70 and over and lists of properties that have already had spray foam insulation installed. These homeowners with installation installed were told it was increasing the moisture levels in their loft space.
Meanwhile, for new victims, the scammers attempted to install costly ventilation systems of around £4,500, a five-fold increase on what they’re truly worth.
In this sophisticated scam, the companies sent salespeople to homes – masquerading as expert surveyors – to lock homeowners into pricey contracts for needless work, which is often then conducted as quickly as possible to prevent homeowners from coming to their senses and backing out.
With winter drawing in, look for scams such as these to start up again in the coming months, if not already.
How can homeowners avoid being scammed this winter?
According to Warm and Well, which offers energy efficiency advice to households across the areas affected by the aforementioned scam, while it can be notoriously tricky to spot a genuine salesperson from these scammers there are red flags to be aware of.
Make sure you pay attention to what they’re offering and how. If any work seems too cheap or like it will be carried out in record quick time, this should ring alarm bells. If this offer out of the blue from someone you don’t know and have never heard from before, be wary.
If you’ve been asked to transfer money quickly, or in an unusual way – such as cash only or through a money transfer service – you might want to think again.
Warm and Well also warns that there is often no written confirmation of what’s been agreed before the work is carried out, so as to avoid any evidence of the work.
It’s also important to work out whether you are dealing with a genuine company or not. A quick Google search can do wonders here. Check any leaflets for a website or postal/registered address given to you, and see if anyone else has had dealings with these companies, to avoid fakes and those operating under false pretences.
In terms of insulation, remember that close cell spray foam and open cell spray foam are no more effective than other forms of insulation, as promised by these scammers, and are not required for every home.
Ways to keep your home warm this winter
There are simpler, more inexpensive ways to keep your home nice and toasty this winter and keep those energy bills lower.
Sometimes insulation in a home will need to be improved and enhanced, but make sure you are the one contacting a reputable tradesperson or company rather than relying on cold-callers or door-steppers who might have dubious intentions.
Investing in double or even triple-glazing (if your home doesn’t already have this) is a great way to keep the heat in and make your home more energy-efficient. While most homes will have double-glazing these days, some older builds wont, and it can mean far more heat escapes.
Similarly, getting to grips with your heating system – whether this is done in the traditional manner or through smart home devices – can help to make sure you’re using it in the most efficient manner.
There are differing opinions when it comes to how best to heat a home while keeping bills down. While it has long been said that keeping your heating on long and low all day is cheaper and more efficient, the Energy Saving Trust believes this is a myth. Instead, they insist that only having the heating on when you need it is, in the long-term, the best way to save on energy – and, in turn, the money spent on energy bills.
If you don’t have lots of spare money to spend on insulating your home – and with the current cost-of-living crisis, that is likely to be a lot of people – there are cheaper, DIY ways in which you can insulate your home effectively, from installing draught-excluders to fitting thicker curtains, bleeding radiators so they work effectively, closing doors, using insulator tape and investing in radiator reflectors.
You can also get budget-friendly secondary glazing film for windows, affordable insulated blinds, loft insulation roll and thermal insulation film to store more heat in your property and allow less of it to escape. It’s virtually impossible to stop all heat from escaping, but there are cost-effective ways in which you can improve the insulation of your home without breaking the bank.
As the temperature dips and the weather changes, the temptation might be there to believe that cold caller or door-stepper who promises you they can sort your insulation in double quick time. But, on the whole, it would seem best to think twice and consider DIY alternatives if money is tight.
Or, at the very least, contact someone directly rather than relying on someone turning up at your door or calling you from an unknown number.